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Eating healthy leads to good results: Experts

Switching to healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables helps reduce overall stress and increase concentration.

delhi Updated: Feb 10, 2011 23:17 IST
Rhythma Kaul

Switching to healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables helps reduce overall stress and increase concentration.

Breakfast, the most important meal
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which must not be skipped at any cost.

"For our brain to function normally, it requires nourishment at regular hours. Our body has already fasted for eight to nine hours and if you don't take breakfast then you will feel exhausted the whole day," said Dr said Dr Ritika Samaddar, regional head, dietetics, Max healthcare, at a workshop organised by Horlicks to help students manage exam stress.

A healthy breakfast must have a mix of carbohydrates and protein to provide the necessary energy to see you through the day. White bread and sugar-rich foods such as biscuits should be avoided as they are instant energy boosters and do not provided a constant flow of energy needed throughout the day. "Instant high and then extremely low levels of energy destroy the body metabolism and would make you feel lethargic. Our traditional Indian parantha is any day better than white bread," she added. A glass of milk is a must. It contains tryptophan, which is a mood stabiliser, helpful during times of stress. Try and go for skimmed milk, which is light.

Eat small, frequent meals
Eating heavy meals, when one is stressed, can cause irritable bowel syndrome. The stomach does not get the blood flow necessary to break down food when you are stressed, as it is mostly channelised towards a particular organ to relive stress. That's why a heavy meal does not get digested properly.

Lunch should be balanced Chapati, legumes, vegetable and yoghurt. For non-vegetarians, chicken or fish as a protein option. Dinner should have at least one protein-rich item such as legumes, but should be lighter than lunch. Yoghurt is a must have for its calcium and minerals that improve nerve impulses. Yoghurt also provides relief from stomach ulcers, which usually develop due to stress, by neutralising acidity.

Eat dinner two hours before going to bed to ensure its well digested, while fruits should be taken as snacks in-between meals. The high fibre content found in fruits and vegetables helps relieve constipation, which is one of the side-effects of stress. Carrot in particular is rich in vitamins necessary for reducing stress, and is readily available during this season. One can also opt for sprouts that are full of essential nutrients and easy to digest.

Omega-3 fatty acid
Omega-3 fatty acid, which is found in fish, flax seeds and dried fruits, are essential for the optimal development of the brain, eyes and nerves. Almonds and walnuts also have essential micronutrients that help strengthen body's immunity that helps it fight infections. Since nuts are high on calorie, its best to have them mixed in yoghurt or a green salad.

Fluid nourishment
Since the body's fluid needs double under stress, ensure you have at least two litres of fluids. Having fluids in the form of fresh lemonade or coconut water also helps maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. Muscle cramps, dry mouth and low urine output indicate your body requires more fluid.

Say No to tea and coffee
Avoid caffeine in colas, tea and coffee as far as possible. "Caffeine can cause malnutrition in children in a way because it interferes with the absorption of essential nutrients. It causes acidity, which can cause inflammation of guts," said Dr Shubha Sabharwal, chief dietician, Apollo Hospital.